Things always get a little testy when Liverpool face off against Manchester United. Today’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford was no different— four yellow cards were handed out, a penalty was conceded, and tensions between players got ugly at times during the match.
The emotions were running so high that even the managers weren’t immune. Late in the game, United’s Ander Herrera made a rough challenge on Roberto Firmino and escaped unpunished. Debate over the incident on the touchline led to some shouting between members of the technical staffs from both teams, with exchanges between Jürgen Klopp and José Mourinho appearing particularly heated.
In the post-match press conference, Klopp tried to explain what that was all about.
“He (Mourinho) wanted a yellow card, I don't know. I think the ref whistled before anything else happens, Roberto wants to stay in the game, yellow card for Herrera and nothing else. It could have been even worse. We (himself and Mourinho) could not have the same opinion in the moment.”
Klopp seems to be suggesting that Mou was trying to argue for leniency for Herrera, which Klopp apparently disputed. For his part, Mourinho disputed Klopp’s recollection:
“He thought I was asking for his player to be sent off. I wasn’t. There was no problem at all. I think the game was correct. I think the players gave everything but in an emotional and professional way so the referee did very well in that part of the game – emotional and in control of good professionals. There was aggression but it was good so I think it was great publicity for the Premier League all around the world.”
Both men were cordial at the full-time whistle and neither appear to be keen on litigating the incident further.
Of course, Mourinho doesn’t really do the whole professional comity thing. And there have been simmering tensions between the two since Mou’s Real Madrid squad was embarrassed at the Westfalenstadion in the 2013 Champions League semifinals. While this isn’t likely to match up with Mourinho’s legendary feud with Arsène Wenger, we could well be witnessing the slow-burn development of another major manager rivalry.